EHCPs - What do I need to know about Personal Budgets and Direct Payments?

EHCPs - What do I need to know about Personal Budgets and Direct Payments?

What is the difference between a Personal Budget and Direct Payment? 

A Personal Budget is an amount of money agreed with the local authority to deliver the education, health and/or social care provision in an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) when the parent or young person are involved in securing that provision.

A Direct Payment is one of the methods of managing a Personal Budget; where the parent or young person buys and arranges the services for provision themselves, rather than the local authority.

Direct Payments can also be used specifically for social care support identified in a care and support plan for young people over the age of 18.

Any restrictions on the use of Direct Payments in EHCPs?

The placement named in Section I of the EHCP needs to have given written consent for any Direct Payments in place for goods or services that are provided at that placement.

What are the other ways of managing a Personal Budget?

  • An arrangement, where the local authority or placement holds the funds and arranges the service. 
  • Third party arrangement, where the funding is paid to a person or organisation who acts on behalf of the parent or young person. 
  • A combination of the above.

When can I ask for a Personal Budget?

You can request a Personal Budget from the local authority either when the EHCP is being drafted or at an Annual Review, or when the local authority is carrying out a re-assessment.

Does the local authority have to agree to a Personal Budget?

In reaching this decision, the local authority has to consider the individual circumstances, as well as:

  • If preparing a Personal Budget would have an adverse impact on services provided or arranged by the local authority for other EHCPs they maintain, and;
  • If it would be an efficient use of the local authority’s resources.

If the local authority does not agree to a Personal Budget they must set out their reasons in writing, enabling either parents or the young person to ask the local authority to review this decision.  Once the local authority has reviewed the decision it must then notify the parents or young person of the outcome and provide reasons for this.

A Personal Budget has been agreed – where will it be detailed in the EHCP?

In Section J, where it must set out:

  • The details of how the Personal Budget will support meeting Section E outcomes in the EHCP;
  • The provision (education, health and/or social care) it will be used for, including any flexibility, and;
  • Arrangements for any Direct Payments.

As Section J cannot be appealed to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal, it is important to discuss any concerns with the local authority directly about the amount of money allocated. Sometimes parents may have to top up the Personal Budget depending on the provision requested and what the local authority is willing to fund.

Is there anything that cannot be funded under a Personal Budget?

Costs towards the school placement named in Section I cannot be funded under a Personal Budget.

What happens if a local authority wants to stop a Direct Payment as part of an EHCP?

The local authority must consider if:

  • The parent or young person is not using the Direct Payment to secure the agreed provisions, or;
  • The agreed provisions can no longer be secured through Direct Payments, or;
  • The making of the Direct Payment is having an adverse impact on services provided or arranged by the local authority for other EHCPs they maintain, or;
  • The making of the Direct Payment is no longer compatible with the local authority’s efficient use of resources.

If any of the above applies, then the local authority must give notice in writing to the parent or young person, along with reasons for its decision. The local authority can be asked to re-consider its decision once.

Any other information I need to know?

Under The Special Educational Needs (Personal Budgets) Regulations 2014, in preparing or maintaining an EHCP, local authorities must provide parents or the young person with information on:

  • The provision for which a Personal Budget may be available;
  • Details of organisations that provide advice and assistance in connection with Personal Budgets, and;
  • The conditions which must be met before Direct Payments may be made.

The local authority must also have information about Personal Budgets as part of its Local Offer, including its policy on Personal Budgets that identifies:

  • A description of the services across education, health and social care that lend themselves to the use of Personal Budgets;
  • How funding will be made available;
  • Clear and simple statements of eligibility criteria and the decision-making process. 

The Boyes Turner Education Team is working remotely during this time and fully able to continue with new enquiries. We can help at whatever stage you are with your EHCP, including queries about Personal Budgets and Direct Payments, and can be contacted on 0118 952 7219 or via senexpertsolicitors@boyesturner.com.

I am so happy at the outcome, I don't think we would have had such a comprehensive service from any other law firm, and you took the worry away...I do not regret a single second of the whole process, apart from the bit before you got involved. 

James' mother, Boyes Turner client

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